Connections Jan 2015 - Page 95

The stench struck again, stronger than before but this time recognizable. It smelt like human waste mixed with stale sweat, foul body odour, and cheap cigarettes. I glanced around to see who smoked; everybody did. Something smooth and oily ran under my right hand. I shuffled back and saw a cockroach scuttling off to run under someone’s head. I raised by body as another appeared, ran under my leg, followed by more. As I brushed them away I felt the golden sand had gone and left a dark, hard, filthy floor. My body started to tremble - my nerves on edge. I glanced up at the sky but could only see thick black smoke. I coughed uncontrollably until the smog cleared and several stained panels emerged with flickering strip lights. The sky had switched to a ceiling of a filthy, neglected cell, crammed completely to capacity. My heart-beat raced and throbbed in my throat as I realized I had to face this reality and deal with the torment all over again. My mind had played tricks on me, creating a mirage of a beach, an illusion of freedom. Struggling with my sanity in the worst-place-in-the-world, I sat amongst murderers, drug-dealers, rapists and paedophiles in a Thai prison; otherwise known as ‘The Bangkok Hilton’ or Hell. THREE A thick blanket of smoke circled above and hung over my head like a dark, polluted rain cloud. Prisoners smoked like they had minutes left to live, dropping their smouldering butts between the cracks in the floor. Still burning beneath me, smoke drifted up from below as I feared fire or suffocation. My throat felt dry and sore as my pounding heart continued beating through every inch of my being. I needed water. I needed to get out. Being the only foreigner or farang made me an outcast and although packed in so tightly, I’d never felt so alone.A creaking noise of an old warn out ceiling fan wobbled as it spun, hanging on for its life with two rusty screws. My sweat-dampened clothes clung to my back and my body ached from sitting cramped on a hard floor. Thick with dirt, covered in blood stains and other stains I couldn't identify and didn't dare to try, some of the others had a bed-roll; I had the floor. Bugs gathered beneath me, probably waiting for me to sleep, pass out or just die. Fending them off felt exhausting, frightening and futile as some sampled my blood as others left foul traces of their presence. My mind played tricks on me and even when I thought they’d gone I still felt the sick sensation of them crawling all over me. A man with a faded tattoo of an eagle on his chest held a syringe and sucked something into it. He stuck a needle into his friend’s arm, drew some blood and combining the two substances, he injected the mix back into the emaciated arm, his friend gazed, sickly into space. After several long, drawn-out hours, the yelling subsided and most of the others tried to sleep . The thick fog of smog began to clear and my fear